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File Format of Spatial Data

In this Tutorial Learn File Format Vector and Raster of Spatial data.

What is a File Format

The File format of spatial data is the layout and content of data in a file. It can be defined as a way to store and organize data in such a way that it can be understood by an end-user or another software program.

A professional GIS programmer will use formats that are optimized for speed and storage. They will also need to know how to convert various different spatial data formats to other formats, such as from vector (e.g., Shapefiles) to raster (e.g., TIFFs).

A GIS files is a standard of encoding geographical information into a computer file that is Raster and Vector File.

Raster Data is a Pixel value, also defines Grid and Cell. It represents continuous data such as Elevation, Slope, Surfaces.

Vector Data is simply XY coordinates. Generally, they are a latitude and longitude value.

Raster File Format

File FormatsFull Form
BMPBit Map Image
ECWEnhanced Compression Wavelet
JPEG(JPG)Joint Photographic Experts Group
PCXPersonal Computer EXchange
PNGPortable Network Graphics
TIFFTagged Image File Format
GIFGraphics Interchange Format
PICTImage Originator Apple Computer
RLCRun Length Compressed
IGSImage in Grayscale
GEOSPOTSpot Image Corp.(Georeferenced Image)
GEOTIFFGeoreferenced Tiff Image
MRSIDMultiresolution Seamless Image Database
ExifExchangeable Image File Format
PSDAdobe PhotoShop Document
ADRGArc Digitized Raster Graphics
SDTSSpatial Data Transfer Standard
IMGErdas Imagine Image
CALSComputer-aided Acquisition Logistics and support
TGA(TARGA)A Simple run length encoded image format

Vector File Format

File FormatsFull Form
E00Arc Export
CGMComputer Graphics Metafile
DWGAutoCAD Drawing file
DXFData Interchange File
HPGLHewlett Packard Graphic Language
MDBPersonal Geodatabase
MIF/MIDMapinfo Data Transfer Files
SVGScalable Vector Graphics
ODGOpenDocument Graphics
DGNMicroStation Design File
SDTSSpatial Data Transfer System
TIGERTopological Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing
VPFVector Product Format
VMLVector Markup Language
HVIFHaiku Vector Icon Format
AMFAdditive Manufacturing File Format

Difference Raster Data & Vector Data

raster and vector file formet


Raster Data
  • Easy and efficient overlaying
  • Compitable with remote sensing imagery
  • Efficient to represents continuous data
  • Simple data structure
Vector Data
  • Smaller file size
  • Editing is very Easy
  • Proper identity for discrete objects, like point, line or polygon
  • Efficient Topological relationship
  • Accurate projection transformation


Raster Data
  • Larger file size
  • Difficult to edit
  • It’s a pixel series, so not accurate identity the objects
  • D’nt  build Topological relationship
  • Inefficient projection transformation
Vector Data
  • Difficult overlay operations
  • Not Compitable with remote sensing imagery
  • That is Not proper represents continuous data
  • Complex data structure

Which Format for Spatial Data is the Best?

GIS stands for Geographic Information System, and is a subset of spatial data. The most popular formats are ESRI Shapefile, GeoTIFF, MapInfo TAB format, Erdas Imagine Image File Format(EIF), Geopackage(GPKG).

GeoTIFF is the most popular format used in GIS because it’s more versatile than other file types.

MapInfo TAB format is only used by MapInfo software which is not very common anymore so GeoTIFF or Shapefile are better options.

Geopackages are designed to store spatial data.

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